Closer Than You Think: Nonviolence Movements by Haruka Noishiki ( A’21)

by PriyankaK
Nov 19

I wanted to share the ways in which I believe non-violence movements, which I have been studying as part of my Oslo Scholar Fellowship at the Albert Einstein Institution, are closer to our day to day lives than one might have thought. One of the research opportunities I have had for this internship so far is the South Korea presidential impeachment process. It was fascinating to dig deep into the protests and timeline surrounding this successful movement. This was particularly true while researching a movement in a country that may, similar to my home country, Japan, tend to not be at the forefront when thinking about countries with a hefty dose of activism. The quiet yet assured ways in which participants in this movement brought about change made me realize the potential for movements back in Japan and possible ways to make them effective.I also have started cultivating my own research project on the movement against femicide in France. I spent my last semester in Paris, and this issue had been at the forefront of my mind. On my second day in Paris and on the first day of orientation, I took my first leisurely walk with my abroad group towards Montparnasse. Amongst the elegantly-perched Haussmanian buildings, casually-flowing Seine and magnificently-standing bridges, there was a circle at the center of an intersection with a statue in the middle. What drew my eyes was not the statue itself, rather, it was the black, blocky letters that stood out against the white background of each lettering. Caught in the middle of a wave of French commuters headed north and with minimal French capabilities, I could make out something about January, “you” and “want” but nothing more. Locals shared that these signs are all over France, and I saw it for myself soon enough. One such signs read: “Femicide: respect existence or respect resistance.” Fast forward to March, towards the end of my time in Paris, writing an editorial piece, sitting in a café facing a carousel -- what felt like the French experience -- and even then, the signs haunted me enough that I wrote about it. Now, I have the opportunity to take a deep dive on a more academic end and examine the movement surrounding the realities of everyday women in France.

I share this lengthy narrative to explain how I have reconciled my self-experience driven research interests. Advocacy for women and women’s empowerment remains close to my heart, and I am grateful for this opportunity to study a matter of global news from a personal perspective. At the same time, I have had conflicting feelings about the ways in which I draw inspiration from my own experiences. Prior to this summer, it had felt inappropriate or misfocused to focus on research topics that are informed by the way in which I have experienced the world. Pursuing opportunities this summer with that nagging sense in mind, I have realized that the opportunities I am most qualified and in which I can be most useful for lay in dimensions in which I have struggled, in which my identity is ingrained. Movements against women’s repression is one of them.

Another distinct observation during this summer of remote internships has been the importance of over-communication in action. Last summer, as the only intern on the team I was supporting, I learned the different ways in which people communicated, including how often to ask questions and at what time to submit drafts and seek feedback. Some people I worked with preferred quick and frequent clarifying meetings, while others preferred to exchange emails or text messages throughout the day. This year, I have been able to put some of those lessons to action, and feel fortunate to have started to learn these tools of communication before the remote work setup became the norm. This year, I am building upon such communication skills, particularly in being upfront about commitment, flexibly adapting to what the task calls for and what my basic needs are and communicating earlier than later.

Through my informational interviews, I have heard over and over again that communication skills are key, and this summer of remote work has made me value the simple and quick email or text more than ever. I am learning that, no matter how important a cause you may work for, the importance of sharing information is foundational to success or even a smooth start. I look forward to continuing to work on my communication skills and to developing my research project throughout the rest of the summer.